Luepke will wrestle in Division 2 195-pound championship Saturday night
By Paul Lecker
MADISON — Spencer/Columbus Catholic junior Hunter Luepke did not mess around in his third trip to the WIAA State Individual Wrestling Tournament.
Luepke, who earned a fifth-place medal last season at 182 pounds, will be wrestling in his first state finals after a pair of dominating wins Friday at the Kohl Center.
Luepke (38-2) earned a major decision over Hayden Arneson of Monroe 12-3 in the quarterfinals and dominated Matthew Van Eperen of Wrightstown in the Division 2 195-pound semifinals with a pin 51 seconds into the second period.
Luepke will face undefeated Lucius Rinehart (36-0) of Evansville/Albany in the finals Saturday night.
“I knew he (Van Eperen) was going to be good because he made the semis,” Luepke said. “I was just trying to work the stuff that I usually do, and I was getting it pretty well early. Then I just rode him hard and looked for stuff on the top. I’ve been working hard this week to get to the championship, and that has been my goal since Day 1 this season. It’s nice to get there.”
Luepke controlled the quarterfinal from the start, earning a takedown and nearfall in the first period; an escape, takedown, and nearfall in the second; and another takedown in the third to build an 11-0 lead on the way to the 12-3 victory.
In the semifinals Luepke was leading 2-0 in the second period when he flipped Van Eperen on his back and finished off the match with a pin.
“He’s just on fire right now, at a whole other level,” Spencer/Columbus coach Jake Zschernitz said. “Everything’s clicking. He’s going after it, and hopefully he can keep that up (Saturday) night.”
Spencer/Columbus’ Logan Zschernitz, who earned a spot in the D-2 285-pound quarterfinals by virtue of his sectional win last weekend, won his quarterfinal match with a pin of Josh Frerk of Denmark in 2:55.
In the semifinals, however, Zschernitz could not budge Cody Jacobson (44-2) of Ripon and lost 3-1.
Zschernitz (38-4) will face an old foe, Neillsville/Greenwood/Loyal’s Nick Rueth (40-7) in a consolation bracket semifinal Saturday morning. The winner wrestles for third place, and the loser moves into the fifth-place match, both of which are set for Saturday afternoon.
Zschernitz has beaten Rueth the past three weekends in the Cloverbelt Conference, WIAA regional, and WIAA sectional finals at 285 pounds.
“We get as many shots off as we’d like,” Jake Zschernitz said of Logan’s match. “(Jacobson) controlled his head pretty well. Logan’s young. We have some time left with him, but he wrestled well all year, and hopefully we can come back and get third.”
(Hub City Times Sports Reporter Paul Lecker is also the publisher of MarshfieldAreaSports.com.)